By Liz Leamy
Last Sunday, White Birch Farm, the renowned hometown high-goal polo squad, claimed the 2021 East Coast Bronze Cup with a stellar 11-8 victory against Palm Beach Equine Clinic of Wellington, Florida.
Playing in front of a packed crowd at the Greenwich Polo Club on this quite sunny and breezy Father’s Day, these two top-tier 16-goal teams, both of who qualified for this final by winning a series of high-intensity matches over the past several weeks, were all about gamesmanship and skill with White Birch, the 2020 East Coast Open champions, clinching the title in the end.
For the players, it was all about doing their best and using their experience, strength and skills to achieve an optimal result.
“It was great to be out there. It was a beautiful day and we wanted to do our best,” said Pablo Llorente Jr., the electric Argentinian White Birch six-goaler who has come to be regarded as one of the standout marquis player at the Greenwich Polo Club over the past few years. “After the first half finished, we sat down and talked. That helped motivate us going into the second half.”
Throughout most of the first half, White Birch and Palm Beach Equine Clinic ran head-to-head in terms of points.
In the second half, however, White Birch flew past its opponent to wind up at the top of the leaderboard in the final tally.
Certainly, the chemistry among the four talented and driven members of White Birch seemed to play a major role in their result.
Collectively, this crew demonstrated a distinctive harmony, connection and understanding of one another out on the field, something that is interesting to consider in noting each of their individual stories.
Christopher Brant of Greenwich is White Birch’s number-one player who is known for his steady and fluid gamesmanship and is always one to watch at matches.
In this heated final, Brant played a formidable and aggressive game, knocking in more than three of his team’s goals to earn the match’s Most Valuable Player Award.
Then, there is the distinguished Mariano Aguerre, the 2017 Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame inductee and star Argentinian eight goaler who plays the number four position and is one who always seems to bring tremendous electricity and energy to the matches.
Among some of his recent feats, Aguerre helped guide White Birch to victory at the 2020 East Coast Open Championships at the Greenwich Polo Club last September.
“It’s great to be back here in Greenwich and to be playing in this position,” said Aguerre. “I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season.” (Aguerre’s powerful charge, Machitos Odelay, was named Best Playing Pony of the match.)
Pablo Llorente Jr., the number-three player for White Birch, is another force in this group and is an athlete who seems to be as much a technician as he is fierce in terms of his overall gamemanship.
Juan Olivera Jr., meanwhile, the youngest member of White Birch who plays its number-two position with a two-goal handicap, is a strong player who instinctively seems to know how to function optimally with his colleagues.
The talented members of Palm Beach Equine also worked in terrific concert together as they put up quite a fight against their opponents.
Gringo Colombres, Palm Beach Equine’s decorated Argentinian eight-goaler who has become one of the Greenwich Polo Club’s most popular players over the past several seasons, flew around the field with the command and aptitude of a seasoned world-class professional, as did all of his teammates.
As a whole, this group of accomplished athletes, along with their stunning charges, easily held the full attention of spectators throughout the entire match, as they could be seen clapping and cheering loudly in the stands and along the sidelines.
“It is incredible to be here,” said Electra Walker of Darien. “It’s my first time attending a polo match and it’s been a fantastic experience. The players and their horses are amazing to watch and it’s just a perfect atmosphere. Everyone is so friendly and lively and there is such good energy here.”
Further adding to the excitement of the day was the fact that Nacho Figueras, the famed Ralph Lauren model who spent several seasons playing at the Greenwich Polo Club, was a presenter at the awards ceremony.
“It’s great to be back here and I’m very happy to see that the club is looking as good as ever. It’s an incredible place,” said Figueras, who said he is hoping to play at the Greenwich Polo Club again in the future. “Greenwich is a great community and you can see and feel that here. The Greenwich Polo Club and this whole town are places that mean a great deal to me. There is so much heart among everyone and that is everything.”